22. 2. 2023

The impact of temperature on the quality of olive oil

Last week, you saw how we transport our olive oil overseas. Using specially designed thermo covers, we protect our olive oil against big temperature shocks during transportation. 

In this article, we’ll explore the impact of temperature on extra virgin olive oil and how to store it properly and use it effectively in cooking.

To store extra virgin olive oil for the longest possible time, it’s best to store it in a cool, dark place at a temperature between 14-18°C (57-64°F). This temperature range helps to slow down the oxidation process, which is the main cause of the oil’s degradation over time.

It’s also important to protect the oil from exposure to light, air, and heat, as these can all contribute to the oil’s degradation. Ideally, the oil should be stored in a dark, airtight container to minimize exposure to light and air.

In general, it’s best to use your extra virgin olive oil within 18 months of the production date, as the oil will begin to degrade over time even with proper storage. By following these storage guidelines, you can help to ensure that your oil stays fresh and flavorful for as long as possible.

But what about cooking with extra virgin olive oil? We will present to you two of the most important perspectives when it comes to cooking with olive oil

Smoking point

Assuming that it depends on personal preferences and price cannot be overlooked, in reality, olive oil is recommended for frying, even more so than seed oils. Olive oil is excellent for frying because it withstands high temperatures very well without producing harmful substances for health. Its smoke point, i.e. the temperature at which carcinogenic compounds are created, is around 210°C (410°F). For most seed oils, the temperature generally ranges from 160°C to 190°C (320°F to 374°F). 

The other two factors to consider are the concentration of polyunsaturated fats and the presence of antioxidants. In this case, olive oil has no contraindications, quite the opposite. It only contains a minimal amount of polyunsaturated fats, while it abounds in monounsaturated fats that are resistant to high temperatures. At the same time, the richness of antioxidants counteracts the chemical reaction (oxidation, to be exact) that occurs when the oil in combustion comes into contact with oxygen.

Extra virgin olive oil stability

On the other hand, one new  Australian study said that the stability of oil under heat is more important than the smoke point. The Australian study published in the ACTA Scientific Nutritional Health Journal studied how common cooking oils and fats broke down when heated for a very long time, or heated past their smoke points. The study found that extra virgin olive oil was more stable than saturated fats like coconut oils, and oils with high smoke points such as avocado oil. Researchers found that the smoke point of oil did not correlate to the oil’s performance when heated. Oils with low smoke points (such as coconut oil), or moderate smoke points (such as extra virgin olive oil), outperformed oils with higher smoke points. Extra virgin olive oil performed better than refined olive oil indicating that the antioxidants in the EVOO may be one of the reasons for its high stability.

In conclusion, no recognized definition of “high heat” cooking exists. Olive oil is safe to use in most home cooking methods including baking, frying, sauteing, roasting and grilling.

So, the most important thing, both in terms of smoke point and stability, is that extra virgin olive oil is always the best option for cooking.

And what about the freezing of extra virgin olive oil?

The phenomenon of extra virgin olive oil freezing begins when the temperature drops below 12°C (53.6°F) until it reaches a solid state. When temperatures drop even lower, between 4-5°C (39.2-41°F), the extra virgin olive oil becomes practically solid.

The oil solidifies simply because it contains a portion of saturated fatty acids. It is advisable to avoid this from happening because, once thawed, although there are no significant quality problems, the oil may become less stable to oxidation, rapidly lose its aromatic profile, and in the case of unfiltered oils, lose their turbidity so we’ll repeat once again: „To store extra virgin olive oil for the longest possible time, it’s best to store it in a cool, dark place at a temperature between 14-18°C (57-64°F).“